Fix: Whoops! There was a problem previewing this document

Several users have reported that they are no longer able to preview documents inside Google Drive or Gmail. While some users report that they are suddenly unable to preview all documents, others are only prevented from previewing certain documents. The Whoops! There was a problem previewing this document error is reported to occur with all browsers including Chrome, Firefox, IE, Edge and Safari browsers.

Whoops! There was a problem previewing this document
Whoops! There was a problem previewing this document

While this is by far the most frequent occurence, the issue is not exclusive to PDF documents – some users encounter this issue with Excel or Word documents. When this issue occurs, the user has the option to download the document in question or to try and open it with an additional Google app.

What causes the There was a problem previewing this document error?

After investigating the issue and looking at various user reports, we identified a few culprits that are most likely causing the issue. Here’s a list with frequent scenarios that might lead to the apparition of the There was a problem previewing this document error:

  • Internal Google bug – There is an internal Google bug that will also occur when previewing stuff in the Gmail app. As per a Google official response, this issue might occur if Google Drive decides to prioritize storing the file rather than streaming it. Apparently, this behavior started occurring with version 66.0.3359.139.
  • The issue is caused by the Disconnect extension – If you’re using Chrome with the Disconnect extension, the issue is most likely caused by this plugin.
  • The document is not a valid attachment – Google Drive or Gmail might refuse to preview the document because it doesn’t consider it a valid attachment. If the attachment is not considered secure, Google will not make it available for preview.
  • 3rd party firewall is blocking the connection – There are situations where this issue might be caused by an overprotective firewall that is blocking the connection between your computer and Google’s servers.

How to fix the There was a problem previewing this document error?

If you’re trying to resolve this particular problem, this article will provide you with a list of verified steps. Below you have a collection of methods that other users in a similar situation have used to fix or circumvent the issue.

For the best results, start with the first method. If it’s not successful or you’re looking for a permanent fix, work your way down and follow the next methods in the order that they are presented until you discover a fix that is effective in your particular scenario.

Method 1: Using the magnifier to correct the issue

This might seem like an unconventional fix, but a lot of users have used it successfully to circumvent the issue. Apparently, whenever this issue occurs it can be corrected by going to the bottom of the screen and clicking the magnifier feature.

Using the magnifier to enlarge and reduce the size
Using the magnifier to enlarge and reduce the size

Several users report that by enlarging and then reducing the size of the page view, they were able to correct the issue. This might not seem elegant but apparently, it has helped a lot of users to get around this issue. This fix is confirmed to work on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, but it will only work as long as the problem is caused by an internal Google drive bug.

However, if you try to preview a large document, you might find yourself having to go through a whole cluster of Whoops pages in order to resolve the issue for each occurence. And keep in mind that this fix is only temporary – meaning that you’ll likely have to repeat this operation every time this error occurs.

If you’re looking for a permanent fix, move down to the next method below.

Method 2: Managing the Disconnect Chrome extension (if applicable)

As per various user reports, the issue can also be caused by the Disconnect Chrome extension. If you’re using Chrome and you have the Disconnect Chrome extension installed, you can resolve this issue by either disabling the Disconnect extension for Gmail and Google Drive or by simply uninstalling the extension altogether.

If you decide to keep the Disconnect extension simply visit the site that is displaying the error (most likely Gmail or Google drive). Next,  click on Disconnect’s shortcut icon (top-right corner) and click on Whitelist site. Once the site has been whitelisted, reload the page and see if the issue has been resolved.

If you decide to uninstall Disconnect completely, click the action button (top-right corner) and go to More tools > Extensions. From the list of extensions, locate Disconnect and either disable it by using the toggle or click the Remove button to delete it from your Chrome browser.

Remove or Disable Disconnect
Remove or Disable Disconnect

Once the extension has been removed, reload the page and see if the issue has been resolved. If you’re still encountering the same error message, continue with the method below.

Method 3: Uninstall 3rd party firewall

As per some user reports, the issue might also occur if you’re using an overprotective  3rd party firewall. Apparently, certain security suites will end up blocking the connection between the user computer and Google’s servers.

If you’re using a third-party antivirus, the only way to test if it’s responsible for the apparition of this error is to temporarily (or permanently) uninstall it from your system). Keep in mind that simply disabling the software will not be enough. Firewalls make certain changes that will remain in place even when the firewall is disabled or turned off.

If this scenario is applicable and you want to uninstall the external firewall, here’s a quick guide on how to do so properly:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run box. Then, type “appwiz.cpl” and hit Enter to open up Programs and Features. If prompted by the UAC (User Account Control),  click on Yes.

    Run dialog: appwiz.cpl
    Run dialog: appwiz.cpl
  2.  Inside Programs and Features, scroll down through the list of applications and locate your firewall suite. Once you do so, right-click on it and choose Uninstall.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to uninstall the suite from your system.
  4. Once the 3rd party firewall is uninstalled, use this guide (here) to ensure that there aren’t any leftover files behind that might still enforce the same rules.
  5. Restart your computer and see if the issue has been resolved at the next startup.

If the method is still not resolved, continue down with the next method below.

Method 4: Convert the document to a compatible format or size

Keep in mind that both Google Drive and Gmail aren’t compatible with all formats that might be used by the end users. Because of this, the  Whoops! There was a problem previewing this document error might occur if the document you’re trying to open is not supported by Google. Here’s a list with compatible formats that are supported by Google’s cloud service:

  • Adobe: PDF, PSD, AI
  • Video: FLV, MPEG4, MPEG, OGG, MOV, AVI, WMV
  • Image: JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, WEBP, GIF
  • Text: TXT
  • Office: DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX
  • Audio: MP3, M4A, WAV, OGG

If your the type of file you’re trying to preview is not among this list, convert it to a supported format and try again.

Another potential problem that might interfere with the previewing feature of Gmail or Google Drive is the size of the document. Keep in mind that both Google Drive and Gmail have limits for documents and presentations. Because of this, they won’t preview a document if it’s over 50 MB or a presentation that is over 100 MB.

If the file that is not previewed is larger than that, consider using a compression tool or splitting the tool into two (or more) documents.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: Whoops! There was a problem previewing this document

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